The Feast of John 5
Was it Purim?
Q. Is the festival mentioned in John 1 the Feast of Lots? One Messianic ministry claims that this was Purim in AD 28 and that it must have been a Sabbath because of the invalid healed in verse 9. It claims that the only feast day to fall on a Sabbath betweeb AD 25 and 35 was Purim in AD 28. The ministry also asks: 'Did The Spirit intentionally leave out the name of the feast because the YHWH's name was deliberately left out of the Book of Esther?'
A. "Some time later, Yah'shua (Jesus) went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie-the blind, the lame, the paralysed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Yah'shua (Jesus) saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, hHe asked him, 'Do you want to get well?' 'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.' Then Yah'shua (Jesus) said to him, 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.' At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath..." (John 5:1-9, NIV).
Firstly, the ministry in question operates using the pagan Roman solar calendar and not the biblical Creation Calendar so the estimation that Purim fell on that particular date in the year AD 28 is open to serious question. I would also like to see the calculations and how they were done before commenting further on that.
That matter aside, I believe we can positively identify the unnamed festival in this passage as being one of the three Pilgrim Festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavu'ot (Weeks) or Sukkot (Tabernacles) for the following reasons.
Firstly, the actual text calls this a "Judean festival" rather than a "Jewish festival". In the ministry's own Bible translation it is even called "a feast of the Judeans"  rather than a "feast of the Jews" even though most Protestant and Messianic versions  make the mistake of giving the second rendering.
The sense is clearly that the festival was "in Judea" or the political territory of Judah which can only mean that this was one of the three regalim or pilgrim feasts which had to be held in this specific territory. If it had simply been one of the 'feats of the Yehudim (Jews)' then it could have been held anywhere:
This very same phrase "Judean festival" or "festival in Judea/Judah" is found in ithree other places in the Gospel of John (6:4; 11:55 and a related phrase at 2:13) in connection with Pesach (Passover) and in one other (7:1-3) in connection with Sukkot (Tabernacles). It is never used in connection with the other annual festivals or the other non-mandated minor festivals like Purim or Hanukkah.
"The focus here is not on the Jewishness of these festivals but on the fact that the Torah required all Jewish men to come up to 'the place Adonai your God shall choose' (Deuteronomy 16:16), which proved to be Yerushalayim in Y'hudah (Judea). Only in this verse is the festival not named. Chanukkah, a Jewish festival but not a pilgrim festival tied to Judea, is mentioned at 10:22 but is not called a Judean festival." 
We can conclusively state, then, that this unnamed festival in John 5:1 was either Passover, Weeks or Tabernacles. It could not have been Purim.
 Versions that use this correct rendition include the Jewish New Testament/Complete Jewish Bible (JNT/CJB), Hebraic-Roots Version (HRV) and Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) which renders the pharse, "feast in Yehudah"
 Messianic versions that get it wrong include the Restoration Scriptures Sacred Name Version (RSTNE), Instutite for Scripture Research Version (ISRV) and the Messianic Renewed Covenant (MRC) version
 David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., Clarksville, Matyland: 1992), pp.168-167
This page was created on 24 February 2013
Last updated on 24 February 2013
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